25/06/1939, John Richard Beattie Seaman dies.

Dick Seaman was an allround sportsman from a wealthy British family who was fit in skiing, shooting, flying and, of course car racing. Driving a supercharged MG K3 Magnette for American millionaire Whitney Straight’s new racing team, he won his first race at the 1934 Prix de Berne, a a preliminary race to the Swiss Grand Prix at the Bremgarten forest circuit. Seeing his team-mate Hugh Hamilton crash the team’s Maserati 8CM into a tree and being killed during the main race didn’t put him off. When his father, William Seaman-Beattie, died from a sudden heart failure, Dick set up his own team and won the 1935 Prix de Berne with an ERA, beating the marque’s works driver Raymond Mays.

Dick’s victory at the 1936 Grand Prix at Donington, in a borrowed straight-8 Maserati 8CM, caused Mercedes-Benz team manager Alfred Neubauer to invite Dick for tests at Monza. Dick crashed a W125 into a tree and cracked a knee-cap. But his speed and determination got him the works deal nonetheless. During the1937 German GP Auto Union’s Ernst von Delius crashed into his Mercedes at 170mph throwing him from his car. Dick suffered burns, a broken nose, thumb, wrist and arm, while von Delius died later that day. A year later Dick powered his V12 Mercedes-Benz 154 to victory German GP in front of 300,000 ecstatic spectators at the Nürburgring.

The 1939 season didn’t begin well but Dick was eager to race in front of his home crowd at the 1939 British Grand Prix at Donington in September. But it wasn’t to be. On 25 June 1939 he was leading the Belgian Grand Prix with his in heavy rain at Spa and was constantly pushing the boundaries. He missed the entry point at La Source and left the track sideways. The back of his Mercedes hit one tree and then wrapped itself around another catching fire. He died, terribly burnt, some hours after he had crashed. His funeral was held in London on the 30th of June 1939 and Adolf Hitler, despite preparing to throw war on the World, sent an enormous wreath.

Born: 4th of February 1913 in Chichester, UK;
Died: 25th of June 1939 in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, aged 26.


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